In the land of Ashkenaz
Our translator Micha Meyers told us that Roy Hasan is influenced by hip-hop, and has referenced Jay-Z and the Wu-Tang Clan. You can hear it in the tumbling rhythms of this poem, as well as the ferocity with which he deconstructs the racism and classism aimed at the Mizrachi by the Ashkenaz (Jews of European descent). Hassan is part of a movement known as ‘Ars Poetica’– a pun as “Ars” is a derogatory term in Hebrew slang often used to describe young Mizrahim and originally meaning “pimp.” Here he both seems to claim the name and ironise it, declaring: ‘I am a pimp’ and ‘a pain in the arse’.
It was absolutely fascinating to hear some of the Ashkenaz in our workshop group (including Micha himself) talk about Ashkenaz traditions (apparently a common proverb is: ‘a guest is welcome like fresh fish, after three days he stinks‘). There was also a sense that thanks to artists like Hassan, attitudes are thankfully shifting.
- Clare Pollard
The PTC would like to thank Tangier Publishing for helping us contact Roy Hasan.